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What We Learned This Week: New Awards and the Life of Chris Hondros

By David Schonauer   Friday April 28, 2017


This week brought two big award announcements in photography.

First, we learned that Stephanie Sinclair, a National Geographic photographer and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, has won the 2017 Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award. The $20,000 prize, which honors women photographers whose work demonstrates “bravery, dedication and skill” while reporting news, will support Sinclair’s ongoing work on projects focused on human rights and gender issues, reported PDN. Those projects include “Too Young to Wed,” which documents the effects of child marriage in places such as India and Nepal. Sinclair has also established a nonprofit organization focused on the issue.

Named after photojournalist Anja Niedringhaus, who was killed while reporting in Afghanistan in 2014, the award comes from the International Women’s Media Foundation and is made possible by the Howard G. Buffet foundation. Polish-Greek photographer Louisa Gouliamaki and American photographer Nicole Tung received honorable mentions. Gouliamaki, who is based in Athens, Greece, has covered the European refugee crisis and the revolution in Ukraine. Tung was recognized for her work documenting the conflict in Syria, Libya, and Iraq, added PDN.

Meanwhile, Belgian photographer Frederik Buyckx was named the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards  Photographer of the Year for a series of pictures titled “Whiteout,” which explores how nature is transformed by winter. “I have chosen a series of landscapes so that we may return to the essence of looking at photography,” said Zelda Cheatle, chair of judges for the competition. Buyckx’s work, which was picked out from 227,00 entries by photographers from 183 countries, was shot in remote areas of the Balkans, Scandinavia and Central Asia, where people often live in isolation and in close contact with nature, noted the British Journal of Photography.

In other news this week, we spotlighted a documentary film about the war photographer Chris Hondros, who died six years ago while covering the Libyan civil war. The film, produced by Jake Gyllenhaal and Jamie Lee Curtis looks and directed by Greg Campbell, premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival; Vanity Fair  featured a clip in which Campbell, a longtime friend of Hondros, discusses the photographer and the new film.

Finally, we reported this week that a coalition of advocacy organizations, including the Freedom of the Press Foundation, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Index on Censorship, are launching a new website called U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that will compile and maintain a database of press freedom incidents in the United States. Journalist Peter Sterne, who will spearhead the effort, noted at Poynter  that while the Committee to Protect Journalists keep data on journalists killed and imprisoned around the world, there's no authoritative record for press freedom incidents in the United States.

Here are some of the other photo stories we took note of this week:


1. A $3.50 Flea Market Buy Reveals Unknown Master


In 2001, American Tom Sponheim was vacationing in Barcelona when he wandered through the flea market of Els Encants. There, noted Mashable, he paid $3.50 for a stack of negatives. On returning home, he scanned the negatives and found that he had discovered the work of an unknown but immensely talented photographer. In 2010, he created a Facebook page for the lost images and bought ads targeting the Barcelona area. His work led him to the name of the photographer: Milagros Caturla.


2. Confronting the Sorrow of Still Births


Last year, British medical journal The Lancet published a series of papers on ending preventable stillbirths, highlighting the need for improved care during pregnancy and childbirth as a road map for eliminating 2.6 million annual stillbirths by 2030. That led to an emotional assignment for Matthieu Zellweger, a Swiss photographer specializing in public health issues, who told The New York Times  that he knew right away what he did not what to shoot — “Gory pictures of dead children.”


3. A Saga of Love and Family in the Mississippi Delta


Five years ago, Phyllis Dooney, a New York-based photographer who calls herself "a Yankee from New England," decided to set out on a tour of river towns along the Mississippi River in order, she says, "to see more of my country.” In a karaoke bar in Greenville, Mississippi, we noted, she met an 18-year-old girl who called herself "$uperdike" enthusiastically covering Eminem. And that meeting set her on a path that has now resulted in an extraordinary book, Gravity Is Stronger Here — a saga about an American family.


4. Mixing Modernist Buildings and the Female Form


The latest series from L.A.-based photographer Mona Kuhn, “She Disappeared into Complete Silence,” takes its title from artist Louise Bourgeois’s first monograph: Kuhn says that both she and Bourgeois share “a similar curiosity in using the body and elements of architecture to express the mind and the unconscious.” The new series mixes abstracted elements of modernist architecture with intimate nudes — what AnOther  recently called “a surreal desert hallucination with just a pinch of Californian hedonism.”


5. The Faces Behind Craigslist's Platonic Personals


New York City is a place where millions of people live close to each other, and yet it can also be isolating. Photographer Peter Garritano  hoped to explore this paradox in “Seeking,” a series of portraits of New Yorkers who have posted advertisements in the Strictly Platonic personals section of Craigslist. “We already know everyone’s looking for love,” Garritano told The New Yorker. “I’m more concerned with our social requirements beyond romance.”
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At top: from Mona Kuhn

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